This surname LECERF was a French nickname from the stag, originally derived from the Old French word CERF (rendered in early documents in the Latin form CERVUS) and it was given with reference to the presumed lustiness of the creature, or conversely to the horns supposed to be a sign of a cuckhold. The notion of the cuckold growing horns is attested from late antiquity and is found in most European languages; the best guess at its origin lies in the fact of the outward symbols of virility. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected. The name was also a Jewish surname adopted because of the connection of the deer with the Hebrew given name NAFTALI, which derived from the blessing of Jacob by his sons in which Naftali is referred to as 'a hind let loose'. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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